Someone’s been spying on our tech support group again

26 01 2006

C. Enrique Ortiz has a funny one that someone passed on to him:

Top 10 replies by developers when their programs don’t work:

10. ‘That’s weird…’
9. ‘It’s never done that before.’
8. ‘It worked yesterday.’
7. ‘You must have the wrong version.’
6. ‘It works, but it hasn’t been tested.’
5. ‘Somebody must have changed my code.’
4. ‘Did you check for a virus?’
3. ‘Where were you when the program blew up?’
2. ‘Why do you want to do it that way?’

and finally …

1. ‘I thought I fixed that.’

Canada’s oldest company goes American

26 01 2006

I hope that the shareholders get their value from their investment.  The Hudson’s Bay Company has been sold to Maple Leaf Investments, based in South Carolina, USA.  The oldest company in Canada, started in 1670 is now American.


Summary of my Hong Kong/China vacation trip blog entries

25 01 2006

It was a GREAT time. I would suggest that anyone thinking about visiting Hong Kong do so, and while you’re there do a tour to one of the nearby places like Vietnam, Thailand or China!

For just pictures: 

Day by day:
Hong Kong Day 1-3 (Dec 25-Dec 27 2005)
Hong Kong Day 4 ( December 28, 2005)
Hong Kong(Guangzhou) Day 5 (December 29, 2005)
Hong Kong (Guangzhou) Day 6 (December 30, 2005)
Hong Kong Day 7 (December 31, 2005) part 1
Hong Kong Day 7 (December 31, 2005) – complete
Hong Kong Day 8 (January 1, 2006)
I got to meet Jackie Chan!!!
Hong Kong Day 9 (January 2, 2006)
Hong Kong Day 10 (January 3, 2005)
Hong Kong (Macau) Day 11 (January 4, 2006)
Hong Kong Day 12 (January 5, 2006)
Hong Kong (Zhengzhou) Day 13 (January 6, 2006)
Hong Kong (Luoyang) Day 14 (January 7, 2006)
Falling behind – sorry
Hong Kong (Xi’An) Day 15 (January 8, 2006)
Hong Kong (Xi’An) Day 16 (January 9, 2006)
Hong Kong (Xi’An, Beijing) Day 17 (January 10, 2006)
Hong Kong (Beijing) Day 18 (January 11, 2006)
Hong Kong (Beijing) Day 19 (January 12, 2006)
Hong Kong (Beijing) Day 20 (January 13, 2006)
Hong Kong Day 21 (January 14, 2006)
Hong Kong Day 22 (January 15, 2006)
Hong Kong – Day 23 (January 16, 2006)
Things I learned while touring Hong Kong/China

Things I learned while touring Hong Kong/China

20 01 2006

Things I learned during my 3 weeks in Hong Kong and China

  • Chinese people are very gracious hosts
  • Hong Kong residents must be buying a new cell phone about every other week from the volume of business in Mong Kok area
  • Wrist watches – knock offs, are so common that people must own about 4 or 5 each.
  • Always try everything that is served to you.  You might like it.  (Note – the roaches…not so much)
  • Always try to fight for the bill, but let the host win.
  • Public transit, if done right, can be pretty painless.
  • Not all taxi cab drivers are East Indian.
  • While traffic in Hong Kong is scary, there are some unwritten rules that keep everyone alive
  • Traffic in Hong Kong is sane in comparison to Guangzhou
  • Bargaining is an intricate part of buying in China
  • You can find a street vendor who will you ANYTHING in China, if you look enough.
  • Dust and haze make for great sunset pictures.
  • Dust and haze ruin good landscape pictures, ergo it’s hard to take good landscape pictures in Chinese cities.
  • Life is all about who you know, and whether you can get in contact with them when it’s time.
  • Big families mean lots of dinners out when you visit.
  • 5 star hotels in China have no apparent standard which determines that they are 5 star hotels.
  • Chinese tours are cheap because they take you to a store for every attraction – Commission
  • Hong Kong people don’t dance.  Try finding a good dance club.
  • In China, if you need to get rid of something: burn it.  If that doesn’t work: burn it again.
  • Cash rules.  Credit is for Westerners.
  • In Hong Kong, if land is available it will have a 50+ story appartment building on it within the next 2 years.
  • 10 HKD T-shirts are a prime example of “You get what you pay for”
  • Fresh air is a different standard in HK than it is in Vancouver.
  • If you need something before 10:00 am in Hong Kong – tough 😦
  • If you need something after midnight in Hong Kong – No problem 🙂
  • Hong Kong emergency shelters start opening when daytime highs dip to 14C
  • Hang drying clothing does no good when RH is 80%

Those, I think, cover the main aspects of what I learned in HK/China

Edit: One important one….

  • A Nightclub is where a gentleman would go for company, (if you get my drift).  A DISCO is where one would go to dance if you could actually find it.

Hong Kong – Day 23 (January 16, 2006)

17 01 2006

Going home.

Today was an uneventful day compared to some of the other days, but it was 40 hours long!

We got up and got organized.  We packed the last of our bits and pieces into various corners of our luggage and washed the bedsheets and towels.  Then we waited for a bit as Maggie and Francis were coming by to take us to the airport.  They showed up around 1215, and we headed out.  We met Color quickly down in Central, as she had seen Mrs D’s other cousin and acquired the various Jackie Chan souvenirs. I had expected a signed book, but we also got 2 Jackie Chan pocket knives, 2 Jackie Chan T-shirts, and the signed book even had my name.  Wow!  Way more than I expected. I had been pretty happy just meeting him!  Then it was a last goodbye and many thanks to Color for everything, and we had to continue on our way.

Since we were in Central, we stopped for our last lunch in Hong Kong.  We went to a really good sushi place in IFC 2.  The fish was nice and fresh and they had some good variety.  The wasabi was freshly ground.  It had quite a kick.  We finished lunch with some red bean ice cream.  The ice cream was good.  The red bean part – not so sure.

By the time we finished lunch we had just enough time to get to the airport.  We checked in our bags.  One bag was about 18kg but two of them were 30kg!  Souvenirs.  Heh.  After the check in, we had to say goodbye to Maggie and Francis.  Maggie has been Mrs D’s good friend since high school and you could see she was unhappy about having to leave her.  One last time we had to fill out paperwork. This time it was “Departure Card” (Thank God we don’t do that between Canada and the US!) We moved on through the security point and were on our own.  We didn’t have a lot of time, so we didn’t really browse at the airport.  Our gate was 3 escalators, 1 train ride, and 2 people movers away.  Not exactly close.  We got to the gate with about 10 minutes to spare before boarding.  When we got on the plane, an airbus 340, it was smaller than the 747 we had arrived in, but that meant that our emergency exit seats were just the Mrs and I.  Our own private little seating area.  Nice.

We waited for a while and were wondering what the delay was.  Apparently 2 passengers with checked bags didn’t show up for the plane.  They had to find and remove their bags before the plane could take off. Grrr.  We left about 20 minutes late.  The flight was filled with babies/small children.  As we sat in the plane at least one of them was screaming at some time.  The plus side is that they would get tired soon, and fall asleep.  The flight was uneventful, and I played my game on the PSP, and listened to music.  The PSP battery lasted over 9 hours.  Impressive.

At 0900 PST, I started trying to act like it was 0900.  I woke up Mrs D and started trying get feeling like it was morning.  We arrived at the gate at 1220 PST, about 4 hours BEFORE we left Hong Kong – Bizarre.  As we left the plane, immigration officials were checking every passport. I’m guessing they may have been looking for the two that decided NOT to fly with us.  Hmmmm.  International excitement.  Customs wasn’t too long, and then we were off to get a cab and go to the garage where Mrs D’s CRV was.  The cab ride from the airport to about IKEA cost $20CAD!  I really miss the transport costs in HK!  It was raining in Vancouver, and had been raining for the past 27 days.  Apparently we just missed setting a record by one day.  Lucky us.  It had rained in Vancouver the entire time we were in Hong Kong.  In HK we had suffered a slight rain one day, but that was it. 🙂  After picking up the car we headed home to unpack.

Anne stopped by after work, and we showed her the various souvenirs we had picked up, and watched the hockey game (Oh how I missed my hockey!)  Then we went out for a nice dinner with Anne, to thank her for looking after Taffy so well while we were gone.  We had a nice meal of sushi and some noodles.  By the time we got home there was time to do a bit of laundry and go to sleep.  My trip was over.  It WAS nice to sleep in my own bed again, but I really loved the life in Hong Kong.  The city was so alive, and all our friends and relatives over there made it a trip of a lifetime! Thanks to everyone!  And thanks for reading the blog, and keeping up with us through our frantic travels!

Sorry – No pictures from today.

Hong Kong Day 22 (January 15, 2006)

16 01 2006

Today was the last full day in Hong Kong.  So, like every good person in Hong Kong we had to shop until you drop!

The day started out sort of poorly.  Since we had sent all our dirty clothes the laundry the day before, it didn’t leave anything for Mrs D to wear until I ran down to get the clothes.  I zipped down, and picked up the laundry.  Had my brief two word conversation with the cleaners, and headed back.  I got to the front door, and promptly buzzed up to the apartment.  No answer.  I buzzed again.  No Answer.  I buzzed persistently… No answer.  I backed up across the small street and hollered up.  No answer.  This was getting embarrassing.  Here I was standing in the street with a bag of laundry shouting at an apartment building at 0830 on Sunday morning.  I was probably NOT making many friends.  I walked over to the door again, and I heard Mrs D’s voice over the intercom!  Aha!  I answered back and she let me in.  It turns out that I had been buzzing 3/F, while even though the apartment is 3/F you’re supposed to buzz 4/F or somesuch.  Go figure!  I walked quite quietly past the apartment below us, knowing that I’d been buzzing them like crazy for the last little bit (Ooops!)

The laundry incident behind us, it was time to get out early and meet with Zoie and her family for an early morning breakfast dim sum at 0930.  We met over in TST, and had a really nice dim sum.  The service staff must have partied a bit hard the night before though, as they weren’t terribly quick.  In fact, Zoie got so tired of waiting for the ice water that I had ordered, that she went out, down the street, and got some for me!  Still no water from the restaurant 😦  It was a nice breakfast, and there was probably more talking than eating, as Mrs D got caught up with her aunt and cousin, and I bent the ear of Alex, telling him all about the China trip.  He was a good listener 🙂  1130, and we all had to get going. 

Since my new phone included a free engraving, we stopped in at the Motorola store, which was on the other end of Nathan St.  We zipped over by cab, and brought the phone in.  Three hours he says.  OK.  We’ll be back.

We were in an area that wasn’t too familiar to Mrs D, so we hopped a cab over to Auntie #1’s place.  She hosted us for a while and we chatted, had some oranges, and basically hung out. The outside of many of the apartment buildings in Hong Kong are pretty gritty looking, but on the inside, many people have very beautiful places.  Auntie #1 was one of those.  She had beautiful, old style hardwood floors, and more than enough room for two people. She had nicely decorated the place, and it was quite warm and inviting.  It was a nice visit.

Now came the ugly part.  It was time to shop, shop, shop!  We took a cab again, down to Mong Kok.  Cabs are quite inexpensive in this city compared to home.  It’s $15HKD for the first 2 kilometres, and then it goes up from there.  None of this $5CAD just to get in, and then start ticking immediately from there.

Mong Kok was crazy.  Sunday afternoon every tourist and local in Hong Kong was crammed into the smallest aisles, bumping and squeezing past one another as they scoped out all the goods being sold.  Of course as soon as someone saw something that interested them, they’d stop, and that would create a jam up, and then people would flow around them, bumping and jostling.  This continued on for about 5 or six blocks, and at one point our flow of people had to cross another flow of people.  It was like a physics experiment in Brownian motion.  people bumping, and redirecting everywhere.  I told the Mrs that if one MORE person steps on my toes, I was going to have to kill somebody, and I think the courts would find it to be justified homicide.  If a vendor had something with Winnie the Pooh, we had to stop, check out the goods, and either move on, or buy it.  Mrs D seems to be losing some of her Chinese talents.  A couple of items, she simply bought for the asking price! No bargaining, no haggling.  Just bought!  I was shocked.  I warned her that they will take away her record of Chinese heritage if she keeps this up 😉  We picked up another Hong Kong T shirt, as I realized that I hadn’t got one for myself yet.  They were asking 59HKD for it,or 2 for 110HKD.  I pointed out that if I gave them 55HKD, they’d be making the same per unit profit as if they sold me two.  Negotiations stalled.  We moved on.  We found another stall later that had them at a better price to start with anyway.  Ha!  Mrs D managed to find every Winnie the Pooh fake bathmat, shower cap, and other useless item that she could buy, and did.  She was happy.  Three hours later, I was exhausted.  I pointed out to Mrs D that if I didn’t get out of these crowds, and somewhere that I could rest, I wasn’t going to be very good company at dinner.  We grabbed a cab back to Auntie #1’s place, where I had a much needed rest.

Mong Kok market crowd:

Dinner was at 1900 at Luk Yu Tea House, down in Central, so we hopped in a cab with Auntie #1 and wound our way through the crazy Hong Kong traffic down to the restaurant.  We arrived around 1830, and Auntie #7 and her son were already there.  Luk Yu Tea House has been the restaurant of choice for Mrs D’s dad’s side of the family for as long as she can remember.  Family pictures usually were taken there, at dinners which included everyone.  Tonight’s dinner would see Aunties #1,7,9 and 10, as well as uncle #4.  Color and Andrew were there as well as Christine and Barry.  All together we had 13 people for dinner, and we all fit at one table.  This place was built to handle large families!  It was quite a feast.  Auntie #1 had planned the menu back when we first came here for Dim Sum back about a week ago.  Being the regular, and good patrons that the family is, we got the “preferred customer rate”.  Dinner was over at about 2130, and someone even suggested that Mrs D could continue on her shopping spree.  I killed that idea pretty quickly 🙂

We all walked over to our various transit options.  Bus, MTR, taxi: no need for a car in Hong Kong (especially if you don’t want an early heart attack). Home again on the good old 70, it was then time to pack.  And pack we did.  The Mrs arranged, and rearranged, and packed, and repacked until it all fit so neatly into our three bags.  I made sure we had receipts for as many of the purchases as possible, and started the Excel spreadsheet (calculators can’t handle numbers this big! Haha!)  We somehow managed to stay under budget for our Canada returning allowance.  It must have been all of my great bargaining skills (It certainly wasn’t hers).  We had everything all ready to go finally, and it was only 0130.  Time to sleep.

Here’s a picture of the standard downtown traffic crossing:  Notice how wide it is (the yellow stripes) and just how many people come bearing down on you from the other side of the street.  Quite the experience:

Hong Kong Day 21 (January 14, 2006)

15 01 2006

The second last full day here in Hong Kong was spent running around getting last minute shopping done, and visiting with relatives.  Today Mrs D picked up her HK smart ID card, and we met up with Andrew, Color and Larry for Dim Sum down in Times Square (actually UP in Times Square)  Lunch was on the 10th floor.  Many restaurants in Hong Kong are located in higher floors of buildings, due to the whole astronomical cost of real estate.  We picked up the Cell phones that we wanted to purchase.  It was nice to get that out of the way.

Andrew has a car, which is a bit of a mixed blessing in Hong Kong.  It’s expensive to go through the toll tunnels regularly, and gas is about $2CAD/L.  The nice part is that you can get to where you want to go, when you want, and that meant he could drive us to the BP International house.  The Scout headquarters in Hong Kong is located in Kowloon, and it is 7 floors of hotel, 1 floor of admin, 2 floors of meeting rooms and the Scout Shop on the top floor.   We watched a few meetings going on, and realized that they are pretty similar to our meetings (albeit with more leaders).  We also shopped around the Scout Shop for a bit, and picked up some badges, and a couple of key chains.

I knew we were going to dinner that  night with Color, Andrew and Larry but I didn’t realise that we were going to also go out to visit the Clearwater Bay Golf and Country club.  It was beautifully located on the bay, and in the Yacht club there were boats that easily would put you back 500,000 CAD.  The water in the marina was crystal clear.  We saw zebra striped fish, and horizontally striped fish (Microcanthus strigatus) We saw neon tetras, and large schools of really small fish that were obviously going to be food for the bigger fish around. On the bottom were large sea cucumbers and huge sea urchins.  We even watched for a while as a cuttlefish no longer than my thumb tried to catch the small fish in their schools.  We watched schools of pomfret glide and dart around effortlessly with their cool little crescent shaped fins. It was very relaxing.

Mrs D and I, in the setting sun, with Cheung Chau in the background:

After a drink at the small restaurant, we headed across the small peninsula to a little fishing village called Po Toi O.  This village pretty much is now two restaurants, and some old people selling dried fish.  The restaurant we ate at was located on the pier.  We met up with Carmen and her husband, and Jeanette and her daughter.  The nine of us feasted on Crab, lobster, prawns and fish.  Good Seafood!  It’s been a while.  It was a great meal, and there was a full moon over the bay to accent the beauty of the environment. 

We ate until about 2030, and then Andrew drove us home.  They, like Maggie and Francis, and Christine have been great at making sure we get where we’re going, and that we saw Hong Kong!  Thanks guys!

We’re running out of time here in this amazing place.  I definitely have to come back.

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